Nature provides us with everything that we need in our daily lives such as food, water, shelter, wood, medicine, oxygen, and a lot more. No matter how much technology comes, we will always be dependent on nature for our necessities. Nature is a gift to us. The fact is no matter how much we want to be away from nature, but it will not stop giving to us until it completely vanishes. The emerging technology has created a gap with nature but still, our reliance on nature has not changed. Most of the things that we use daily come directly from nature. Everything we eat has an indirect or direct connection with nature. But we are misusing and over-using those natural resources for our profits. We are becoming greedy.
Today, Over-exploitation and intensive use of natural resources are causing environmental degradation and an anomalous rate of species extinction. Climate Change in this situation will only speed up these processes and hence creating new problems and adding new challenges. So to help a little NbS (Nature-Based Solutions) are getting the attention of scientists to tackle the climate emergency.
The term NbS suggests using solutions naturally offered by Nature to protect it. However, the term has been coined recently but some communities had already started working with them way before modern civilization. For example, communities like Aztecs had developed an agro-hydrological system to build persistence against drought. The system was given the name Chinampas. This technique has helped in replenishing the nutrients in the soil and also in building a habitat for birds and fishes hence creating a healthy ecosystem. It was built long before modern civilization.
Some NbS techniques
Forests are one of the most important solutions provided by nature. The roots of big trees hold the soil together which protects the soil from being flown away with water. Forests help in decreasing soil erosion and increase slope stability. They can be used to avoid landslides, avalanches, and flooding. In addition, they absorb **CO2** from the atmosphere hence improving the air quality. Also, they protect the habitat of several species. Some countries are trying to increase their forest area but still, the rate of deforestation is higher than that of afforestation.
Wetlands also come under NbS because they reduce the risk of floods by intensifying water absorption. They hold the mud and water together thus decreasing the chances of heavy floods. Also, they help in a better quality of water and improving the Biodiversity of the region. They help in maintaining the soil's moisture. We are facing a huge decline in wetlands globally. Over 85% of wetlands globally have disappeared in the past few decades.
Mangroves help in protecting coastal risks by decreasing the speed of storms and hence reducing their impact on the natural habitat. They also help in reducing the impact of floods on coastal areas. In addition, they are significant because their carbon sequestration potential is good. But Unfortunately, the area under Mangroves all over the world has been reduced by 35% since the 1980s and 1990s.
Green spaces in crowded cities can help in purifying air by absorbing the harmful air pollutants produced by industries hence improving the air quality. They also help in decreasing noise pollution by absorbing the sound.
Reasons behind the less assessed potential of NbS
There is a growing demand for NbS in present times because they help us to protect the earth from climate change effects while decreasing global warming and protecting the ecosystem. But their calibre to provide benefits has not been exactly assessed. Some concerns have been raised on their cost-effectiveness and reliability. It is believed that NbS only provides benefits in the long-term and to get immediate benefits engineered solutions are more effective. In this age of technology, people tend to believe more in engineered solutions than natural ones. NbS offers benefits for the long term that might not be retrieved when the cost is felt.
Another factor that comes here is cost-effectiveness. There is still a huge debate on the cost-effectiveness of NbS over Engineered solutions. But there is an issue that needs to be recognized which is that there might be difficulties in capturing the NbS values for financiers due to the distribution of values created among stakeholders. So there is a lacking in the quantification of benefits that makes it tough for NbS to compete with engineered solutions. Ecologists, Engineers, and managers have a growing consensus that a combination of both (Green and Grey) can be used to tackle the risk of climate change.
Understanding the socio-economic effects of NbS
To understand the effectiveness of NbS on actuality, we need to consider two political processes i.e Financing and Governing.
Funding or investment is the major factor required for the implementation of NbS into action on the ground. But lack of finance is found as the main barrier to the implementation of NbS. The investment for NbS comes from the public and private, bilateral and multilateral, national and international funds. The cost for Nbs is high because it requires the relocation of infrastructure and people to create the required habitat. So funds are the main factor that triggers the action. Raising finance for such projects is a bit difficult and complex because the public and private sectors have a short-term nature of decision making and this inhibits the long-term maintenance required for the emanation and sustained furnishing of NbS. The major problem in this is that most of the benefits of NbS can't be obtained by any one institution or party. Financing here requires risk-sharing arrangements.
NbS to be successful in implementing requires proper governing. It needs active and equal cooperation and participation between stakeholders whose preferences and interests may not be the same and can lead to conflicts. Focusing on economic growth and short-term profits might reduce the options that can be considered by private or government sector actors and these options might not consider Nbs projects as bankable especially when these sectors are facing severe budget constraints.
NbS can tackle the changes and consequences of climate change while giving support to biodiversity and protecting the habitat. It can help in facilitating sustainable development but this all requires a system-thinking framework and it solely depends on how we build interdisciplinary research and organize our institutions. A proper governing body and easy fundraising can help quicken the process of implementation.
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